Since September 2010, this blog has recorded the journey of this middle-aged man as I attempt to listen to all the music in my CD collection. CDs revisited in their entirety from start to finish - no skipping tracks, no shuffle. CDs only - no vinyl, no tapes, no downloads. And just as CD technology (and the album format itself) becomes obsolete. I'm no music critic, just a music junkie with too much time on my hands.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Maria Schneider Orchestra - The Thompson Fields (2015)


"...a masterpiece of uncategorizable modern composition."

To be honest, I was only peripherally aware of Maria Schneider (mainly through Bowie's Blackstar album) when her face appeared in my mailbox in late 2016:


This album, The Thompson Fields, had been voted Album of the Year by the readers of Downbeat (it would later win the Grammy Award for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album). Good enough for me: I immediately ordered the CD. The titular fields refer to a neighbor's farm where she grew up, in the flatlands of southwest MinnesotaPeriodicals tended to use the word "pastoral" when reviewing this album because there's no other term that comes close. "Pastoral big band" may seem like a oxymoron, but ya gotta listen to understand (then go buy yourself a copy). This big band includes alto clarinet and accordion and shies away from shout choruses. If I told you Schneider worked as Gil Evans' assistant, would that help?  The detailed liner notes, in a wonderful book presented by ArtistShare (below), are beautifully written by the composer herself interspersed with poetry and Audubon drawings.


Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: Did not chart

Tracks: It's all so gorgeous, but my favorite tracks are Walking By Flashlight, the title track, Home, and Lembran├ža.

Personal Memory Associated with this CD: If I were to produce an autobiographical movie of my teenage years amid the rice fields on the coastal plains of Texas, I would want the soundtrack to sound like this.

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